DT 28274 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 28274

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28274

Hints and tips by pommers

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ****

Hola from the Vega Baja on a bright and sunny morning.  Looks like a nice day ahead once it warms up a bit.

Maybe it’s me not being on good form today, or perhaps RayT took on board my comment that his last puzzle was the easiest ever, because either way this one is a much sterner test, or at least I thought so.  It’s the usual 4* enjoyment though as there are some clever bits of wordplay and some amusing surfaces.  A lot of you disagreed last time so it will be interesting to see how you found this week’s offering. 

As usual the ones I liked most are in blue.  The definitions are underlined in the clues and the answers are under the “click here” buttons.  Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.


7a           Sweet style embracing sweetheart with caress (8)
CHERUBIC:  Start with a word for style, as in elegant, and insert an E  (swEet heart) and a word meaning caress or massage.
9a           Naughty child’s manner creating damage (6)
IMPAIR:  The usual naughty child followed by a word for manner or bearing.

10a         Medicine taken and oddly drowsier (4)
DOSE:  Alternate letters (oddly) of drowsier.

11a         Placebo, with time, almost played in harmony (10)
COMPATIBLE:  Anagram (played) of PLACEBO TIM (time almost)

12a         This person’s eating cold Southern chops (6)
MINCES:  Take a word the compiler might use to say that something is his and insert (eating) a C(old) and then follow all that with an S(outhern).
14a         China is origin of Chinese garden feature (8)
CROCKERY:  For once china isn’t your mate but it’s cups and plates and stuff.  Start with a C (origin of China) and follow with something often seen in gardens, it usually has large stones spread around.

15a         Grand appearance shows nobility (6)
GENTRY:  G(rand) followed by a word for an appearance, on stage perhaps.

17a         The compiler’s free to hide answer for multitude (6)
MYRIAD:  Another word the compiler might use to say he owns something followed by a word for to free or  to clear with A(nswer) inserted (to hide).

20a         Sharpened edge of razor having finished exterior (8)
STROPPED:  Start with an R (edge of RazoR) and around it (exterior) put a word meaning finished or ceased.  You can’t really complain that there’s no indication of which edge of razor you need.

22a         To the French, sudden wind is dignified (6)
AUGUST:  A word meaning “to the” in French, not “a la” but the other one, followed by a word for a sudden bit of wind, not flatulence, as implied by the clue, but a blast of real wind.

23a         Deny daughter’s single in engagement (10)
CONTRADICT:  An engagement or agreement has a D(aughter) and the usual letter for single or one inserted (in).

24a         Bit of  gin knocked back (4)
PART:  What a gin is an example of is reversed (knocked back).  A pedant might say there should be something to indicate that gin is merely an example of something but it works for me as it’s a bit of a chestnut.

25a         Small flower captures heart of ample partner (6)
SPOUSE:  Flower here isn’t some flora but a river a river in Yorkshire, formed by the confluence of the rivers Swale and Ure, which flows south-east into the river Humber.  Start with S(mall) then the river and insert (captures) the middle letter (heart of) amPle.  Here endeth the geography lesson.

26a         Guess he will split Tories, making late switch (8)
THEORISE:  HE (from the clue) is inserted (will split) into TORIES (from the clue) and then the last two letters are reversed (making late switch).  Clever!  Took a while to twig that the word TORIES was simply lifted from the clue.


1d           Filming owlets finally making owl noises (8)
SHOOTING:  S (owletS finally) followed by a word for making the noise an owl is said to make, unless it’s a screech owl of course when it would be screeching. 
2d           Unrestrained Queen in charge (4)
FREE:  A charge with R(egina) inserted.  A warm welcome to Her Majesty for this week’s guest appearance.

3d           Digital calculator? (6)
ABACUS:  A cryptic definition, I guess, of a calculator operated by one’s fingers.
4d           A top flipping Conservative’s slow (8)
DILATORY: Take A ( from the clue) and a top or cover and reverse them (flipping) and follow with a word for Conservative.

5d           Occasionally super idea shows dash (10)
SPRINKLING:  This  dash isn’t running or elan but a small amount.  It’s the alternate letters of SuPeR (occasionally) followed by a word for an idea, as in you get an idea that something may be about to happen.

6d           ‘Skill, eradication’ describes one (6)
KILLER:  An all-in-one and a lurker as well.  The answer’s hidden in (describes) the first two words of the clue.

8d           Clowns come over menacingly in circus show initially (6)
COMICS:  First letters (initially)of the other words in the clue.
13d         Group making music, or not? (10)
CONSORTIUM:  Anagram (making) MUSIC OR NOT.  Now here’s a group making music . . .

16d         Regular exercise ends in accident in grass (8)
REPEATED:  Take one of the two letter exercises and AT (ends in AccidenT) and insert them (in) into some grass.

18d         Torment one on street wearing costume (8)
DISTRESS:  I (one) and the abbreviation of street inside (wearing) a costume or clothing.

19d         Aimless commercial break (6)
ADRIFT:  The usual abbreviation of a commercial followed by a break or gap.

21d         Army of Taliban leader on trail, getting comeuppance (6)
TROOPS:  Start with a T (leader of Taliban) and then you need a trail left by an animal but it’s reversed (getting it’s comeuppance in a down clue)

22d         National song American theme’s embodied (6)
ANTHEM:  Another lurker.  It’s hidden in (embodied) American theme.

24d         Ship’s left  harbour (4)
PORT:  Double definition
Some good stuff as usual but my favourite is the elegantly simple (in both senses of the word) 24d.  For me 26a and 8d join it on the podium but I’m sure you’ll have other ideas.


76 comments on “DT 28274

  1. Phew! Bit of a struggle but perseverance paid off & I got there in the end. 26A gets my vote of the day, many thanks to the setter & to Pommers for his review.

  2. 3*/4*. In spite of a couple of iffy surfaces in 11a & 4d, I thought this was a very enjoyable offering from Ray T with the SW corner much the hardest taking my overall time up to 3*.

    My initial thought for 3d was finger but I was soon disabused of this notion by the crossing clues.

    My favourite and a LOL moment was 22a. Brilliant!

    Many thanks to Ray T and to pommers.

  3. Excellent puzzle. Nicely difficult. It’s nice to have a blogger who doesn’t mix up Parsley and Parsnips.

  4. Very pleased with myself as I struggled through this one with only 1 clue needing electronic help (12a). A record for me for a Ray T. So I must very slowly be getting close to his wavelength….I hope.
    Needed the hints to parse quite a few, so many thanks to Pommers as well as to the setter.

  5. I liked this one, not too difficult but hard enough to get my grey cells working. Some nice clues there but no particular favourite.
    Thanks to Ray T and to Pommers for the blog.

  6. Excellent puzzle, right up my street. Quite a challenge but got there in the end. Favourites 5d and 17a. 3.5*/4.5* Many thanks to Ray T and Pommers.

  7. I liked the menacing clowns (8d), the digital calculator (3d) and the compiler hiding the answer from us (17a). I also liked the ambivalent band in 13d (and thanks for the Dire Straits, always welcome).

    Many thanks RayT and pommers

  8. Pretty good today although 21d & 25a held me up for a bit, my favourite was 5d. Also some nice word play and I must admit tosearching the thesaurus for some hints.
    Many thanks to Pommers and RayT.
    Pretty stormy here in North Cornwall.

  9. Unable to access the site yesterday for some reason, anyway ok today and a **/**** for this amusing and excellent puzzle.
    Like RD originally wanted to put finger in for 3d, and liked 22a- thought Pommers may have illustrated this with Monsieur Petomane- flatulist sans egal ! maybe not !.

      1. Thanks Pommers ,no sound on my works computer- so I will have to put up with the silence until I get home-maybe just as well !

  10. Did the first three quarters at normal speed, but eventually beaten (in the time I had) by the bottom left corner, so thanks to Pommers for the hints. Thanks also to Ray T for the challenge.

  11. Firstly – delighted to be able to access the site at last. I’ve had the malware warning for the past 9 days and the first time the site has come up as ‘clean’ was last night. It’s been like losing an old friend, even though I’m still relatively new to it. Doubly frustrating in that I could see from the Facebook page that posting was ongoing and I knew what I was missing out on. Well done Big Dave.

    Heart fell when the puzzle popped up online this morning and the grid was one of those where you work with second letters rather than first in the NW corner. Called me old fashioned or lazy but I do so prefer pondering a solution when I have an initial letter! Actually lazy is probably the right word.

    Took a while to get into this, even though 1d solved quickly. Then the SW corner fell into place and from there it was relatively plain sailing. Struggled with the anagram in 13d – but then I was coping without paper and pencil and it’s a lot of letters to play with. Took me ages to spot the anagram in 11a. Really liked 5d, 7a, 23a and favourite of the day for its elegant simplicity 9a.

    Finally – am I being pernickity in observing that the nobility – generally the aristocracy – are not the same as answer to 15a? Surely they are a class above even if not always as wealthy.

    1. You’re probably right about gentry and troops aren’t really an army as there may be only two of them but what the hell? It’s only a crossword and they’re both near enough for me.

      1. Showing my age, pommers, but if the two troops were Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarznegger in their pomp, that would constitute quite an army.

        Agree they’re near enough. Thanks for the review.

        1. M. 15a: Just as a footnote, nobility and the answer are both listed as synonyms of each other in the BRB Thesaurus. Whether that makes nobility a “precise definition” of the answer is another story.

    2. 13d is a wonderful anagram. The solution sounds nothing like the fodder. The indicator is quite obscure. The whole took a fair bit of mental effort to work out. Well done you

  12. Couldn’t get on the site yesterday by phone or pc. Google was saying it was too dangerous! Anyway back in today 😊
    ***/***. Some nice clues with 20a last in and favourite.
    Thanks all.

  13. I was getting towards 3* time when I worked out that 6d had to be the obvious lurker, so 9a couldn’t be “impact”. Anyway, 2*/3* seems about right, and 21d is my favourite clue. Probably a bit slow on the uptake after a trip up to the Smoke for theatre (The Play that Goes Wrong” at the Duchess) and a day’s tennis-watching at the O2 (including a truly gladiatorial Murray vs Nishikori) rounded off by a sleeper which deposited us at Liskeard in the wee small hours. Thanks to Mt T and Pommers.

  14. What a wonderful puzzle, with beautiful surfaces.

    Just tricky enough to be satisfying, but with easy ones scattered here and there to stop it being torturous.

    Thanks RayT and to Pommers.

    I didn’t cope with the quickie nearly so easily……..pun, anyone?

    1. I’ll tell you that the pun has 3 words in italics in the paper and then as I can’t get the spoiler thingy to work, you’ll have to wait for someone else to add the pun to the end of the blog.

    2. I use the app so don’t get the italics (any reason why not), but think of what married couples do, with the wife usually conceding more.

  15. What a relief to find the site up an running again for a puzzle from my favourite compiler and a clip of the musical talents of Dire Straits.
    I was another in the ‘finger’ camp for 3d before 8d went in but no other problems to report.
    Podium as crowded as ever for a Mr. T offering. I’ll restrict myself to mentioning 14&17a plus 8d with 24d taking the winner’s cup.

    Devotions to Mr. T and many thanks to Pommers, whose choice of music I applaud!

    1. It is a choice of music to be applauded Jane. There is more interesting stuff out there though.

  16. Usual load of unintelligible clues that one has come to expect from a Ray T.
    For me a waste of good newsprint.

  17. I really found this quite tricky – yet again I’m forced to realise that I depend a lot on anagrams to get started – only two today.
    Like others I fell into the 3d ‘finger’ trap until nothing else fitted and I had to have a rethink.
    I got into a muddle with 26a – thought the definition was ‘he’ so had ‘theorist’ which, needless to say, I couldn’t explain – it’s such a good thing that it’s pommers doing the hints today and not me. :roll:
    Lots of really good clues – 17 and 22a and 1 and 8d. My favourite was 5d.
    With thanks to Ray T and to pommers, specially for the Dire Straits (and explaining 26a).

    Lovely to have the blog behaving itself nicely again.

  18. 22 across easily the best clue for me in this stern test from Ray T. Although it took a while to parse the last half a dozen clues, it was well worth the wait and more enjoyable for the tussle. 3*/4* for me, with thanks to Ray and Pommers.

    I had problems accessing the site yesterday so could not post my thoughts on Jay’s terrific puzzle, so belated thanks all round for Wednesday’s little masterclass.

  19. Is it safe to come in?

    Missed the BD blog far more than I would have thought possible.

    A nice and easy re-entry from RayT.

    Loved 24d – Ship’s left harbour (4) – for its simplicity!

  20. Very challenging. especially in the SW corner, although my LOI, 11a, proved the most defiant of all. Some very well concealed anagrams that foxed me for some time.

    I ticked four clues in particular today, 12a, 22a, 5d and 13d. 24d seems like it must be an old chestnut, but I don’t recall seeing it clued that way before.

    Many thanks to Mr. Terrell for a testing but extremely enjoyable puzzle, and to Pommers.

    1. Agree about the SW corner. That was the one which pushed me into 3* time, especially the troops which aren’t an army but the people who make up an army, unless it’s Sly and Arnie – see #11.

  21. I concede, RayT, you win hands down! I had copious help from gizmo and thesaurus, but still ended up with four short, all in SW corner, and one bung-in wrong. I found this really, really hard.
    I liked 7a and 5d in particular, but fave was 22a.
    Thanks to RayT, and to pommers for helping me fill in the empty blocks.

  22. Good afternoon everybody.

    A joint effort today and mostly straightforward. Not sure I’d have completed the puzzle on my own though so I’ll say four stars for difficulty.


  23. I thoroughly enjoyed it ,although I needed a few nudges for the south-west corner.
    My favourite was 5d.
    Thanks pommers and Ray T.

  24. I have to say I am keeping up the duck theme and got no answers at breakfast time. Fortunately after lunch , after eliminating my husband’s attempt of finger at 3 down I managed it all with no electronic help, let me say, this was a first for what I thought was a very difficult puzzle. Thank you to the setter.

  25. …and there I was on a roll, until today. Not anywhere near Ray It’s wavelength especially in SW corner. 17a favourite, I wish I could remember that three letter synonym for ‘free’. Thanks to Pommers for witty blog.

  26. Really good fun once again from RayT. Not a quick solve but no major hold-ups along the way. Of course we checked the clue word count and can report that all in order.
    Thanks RayT and pommers.

  27. A proper Thursday puzzle ****/**** 😬 Big thanks to Pommers for his hints without which I would still be out in the cold 😰 Brain probably frozen by a wet, cold and very windy 9 holes this morning! 🏌 Favourites 25a & 22a 🙂 Thanks to Ray T all,appears to be back to normal at last 🤗

    1. I misread some of that and thought that Brian was probably frozen by a wet, cold and very windy 9 holes this morning . . .

  28. Enjoyed doing battle with today’s assignment which included one or two mildly thorny clues particularly in the SW which was last corner to fall however I gather I was not alone in that. Don’t think I have come across the trail in 21d before but solution had to be. Thought 3d rather dubious – surely all calculators are digitally operated. Thanks RayT for the fun and Pommers for reassuringly being on hand. ***/***.

  29. ***/****. Having started verry quickly i finished very slowly and not helped by mispelling 26a which held up 18d for an age. My favourite was 24d because of its brevity. Thanks to Ray T for my favourite puzzle of the week and Pommers for the review.

  30. Woohoo – I can get in! :yahoo:

    We’ve definitely entered the harder part of the week, and I’m enjoying it.

    I lingered with others in the SW, where I noticed that the Ouse has flowed by a few times recently. My last in was 20a from the wordplay and checkers only. I particularly liked 17a, 26a, 8d and 18d.

    Many thanks to RayT for the usual pleasure and to pommers for his usual accomplished review.

  31. Evening all. Setter here, with many thanks to pommers for the elucidation and to all for your comments.


    1. Nice one Ray. Just the right balance of difficulty, humour and smoothness. I nearly went for 5* enjoyment but the troops let you down I’m afraid.

    2. Thanks for an excellent puzzle today. I like clever clues but I love elegant clues. And yours were both.

      I’ve never got on with the Guardian. Off put by very early experience of my father’s favourite, Arucaria. But I always hated that “Dog reversing partially over Aristotelian comment, not in italics: a Pacific algorithm” kind of clue. Ugly to the extreme, fiendishly difficult and, ultimately, not enjoyable.

      Apologies if you turn out to be a lifelong Guardian/Arucaria fan. And top marks to anyone that comes up with an answer to the clue!

      1. Don’t give up on the Grauniad as it’s free online. Several brill setters like PAUL (who’s in today), BRENDAN, RUFUS, ORLANDO, NUTMEG, SHED and ARACHNE. There are others who are to be avoided like the plague but I won’t mention them here.

    3. Hi Mr. T – good of you to pop in as usual. Means a lot to us when setters take the time to do that.

  32. Definitely on the tricky side. Guiltily pleased to see that others struggled too and it wasn’t just me losing my marbles. ;-) Last in the SW corner, where I got stuck for an age.

  33. Whey hey! A really good back pager for a change! At last the little grey cells were called upon to do some work! Funny, everyone seems to have found the SW corner awkward; for me the NE was my nemesis for a while
    22a was my favourite; clever. 3/3* overall.
    Thanks to Ray T, and to pommers for being on parade.

  34. :phew: that was seriously hard but I did get there in the end thanks to rather a lot of electronic help. Said to OH it’s Ray T and Pommers says it’s hardish so he said I suppose you’ll give up and read your book instead. Yah Boo shucks I did it. :yahoo:

      1. OH went town this morning and came home with a copy of Matt 2016 for me, I am a happy person. The four saddest words in the English language are Matt is on holiday.

  35. A red-letter day today, a completed three-star Ray-T, without hints!!
    A year ago, I would have struggled to get five answers, now it’s all done. Thanks are solely due to BD and all the bloggers who give up their valuable time to do the hints and bring to light where sometimes all is dark
    Needless to say I enjoyed this once I slotted into Ray-T mode. I went astray on 3d, writing in ‘finger’, which I think is a better answer than the actual one!! Favourite was 14a.
    Thanks to Ray-T and Pommers.

  36. Thank you Pommers for the hints which I sorely needed today for too many of the clues. Found it tough going but a sense of satisfaction nevertheless for those I solved without help. I do take issue with 12a, assume Ray T is not a cook, as the directions in a recipe to mince or to chop are two quite different things, and you will be in trouble if you use the wrong one. 20a was my favorite as it took me back to my childhood, watching my dad sharpening his razor on the leather strop before shaving. Simple times.

  37. Thanks to Ray T and to Pommers for the review and hints. I managed three quarters of this quite easily, but got stuck in the SW corner. 13d was a great clue, I knew it was an anagram, but I couldn’t figure out the definition, so had to resort to the anagram solver. Last in was 12a. I didn’t have the faintest idea about 8d,but got it from the checkers, thanks to Pommers for the explanation. Favourite was 14a. Was 3*/4* for me.

  38. I must be alone in thinking this was one of RayT’s more straightforward puzzles, unlike Brian. I can’t see what his problem is.

  39. Off to bed now as I have to be up early tomorrow. Glad to see most of you agreed this was a bit of a tricky puzzle but fun and please accept apologies for the gratuitous nudity in the piccy for 7a.

    See ya’ll tomorrow.

  40. As usual RayT takes me into toughie time and the enjoyment was similar in both today’s crosswords.
    Needed most of the checkers to get the anagram in 13d.
    Thought of finger also in 3d.
    Had a bit of dyslexia in 16d (reapeted) and noticed it was harder to spot in a down clue. Well that’s my excuse as it stayed there for quite a while.
    Thanks to RayT and to pommers and his choice of blue clues.

  41. Excellent, excellent! A bit above average for a Ray T, but way above average for most back-pagers. Challenging and very enjoyable – made me think long, hard and deep, which is what a cryptic should do. I see he’s displaying his “one-word” fetish again – with only one-word clues in the Quickie and only one-word answers in the Cryptic. Very ecological – look at all those commas and hyphens in the enumeration he’s saving! 4*/4.5*

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